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This book presents a history of spiritual exercises from Socrates to early Christianity an account of their decline in modern philosophy and a discussion of the different conceptions of philosophy that have accompanied the trajectory and fate of the theory and practice of spiritual exercises Hadot's book demonstrates the extent to which philosophy has been and still is above all else a way of seeing and of being in the world

10 thoughts on “Exercices spirituels et philosophie antiue

  1. says:

    This incomparable work tasks itself with resurrecting a lost tradition of reading and therefore of understanding and of doing philosophy in which the use of spiritual exercises is seen as an integral part of the meaning of philosophic texts theories and practices Hadot's is an effort to excavate and make available for contemporary use older but larger meanings which would allow us once again to see how philosophy can be than just an abstract theoretical endeavour a personally transformative life practice In the end Hadot reminds us that philosophy at its best is an exercise engaging the totality of one's being the purpose of which is greater integration of all our capacity for experience Rightly pursued philosophic practice deepens our presence to ourselves to the world and to one another Hadot's proposition is deeply intriguing and worth pondering carefully What if the contemporary nihilism which results form the inability of the best scientific theory to inform life practice is born of an impoverished mode of philosophizing? And what if this impoverishment of philosophizing is due to our thought's operating with impoverished meanings which express a restriction of the fuller meaning that philosophy once had and that it must always have if it is to inform and heal life? If we're impoverished in available meanings Hadot shows us the means to re construct capacious meanings that can fully answer to our longing for personally transformative philosophizing In particular he excavates the meanings that shaped the spacious horizons of philosophizing as it was practiced during the Hellenistic period We wander with him in the freer spaces in which the Pythagoreans Neo Platonists Skeptics Stoics Epicureans and Cynics encountered themselves one another and their world And he shows us that the key to philosophic meaning turns out not to lie in the systematic theoretic formal conceptual content of these philosophies which as the critics of these thinkers point out was rather fragmentary where present as well as being fraught with contradictions compared to the systematically organized philosophies of the modern age Rather what these thinkers teach us is that philosophic meaning is something that can only be fully specified through a personally transformative engagement with the texts via spiritual exercises He shows how in the Hellenistic period as well as in some of the most existentially transformative philosophies beyond of Nietzsche Kierkegaard Spinoza Goethe and Rousseau among others spiritual exercises served to supplement philosophical theorizing by grounding it in existential experientially transformative insight A spiritual exercise he defines as a method of focusing drawing on and transforming the total structure of the personality in order to reveal deeper resources for engaging with reality than we normally draw on in our blinkered habitual culturally pre programmed perception of the world Hadot makes a sharp distinction between habitual perception and philosophic perception the latter being the perception of the fully realized personality which can only be uncovered on the other side of sustained practice Spiritual exercises are the means to such perception Usually they are exercises of defamiliarization which remove the dead weight of superficial familiarity off of experienced things in order to show us the world as if we were seeing it for the first time inexhaustibly poignant and an ever renewable source of meaning and value Their aim is the shedding and stripping of all inessentials in the form of culturally received opinions which lays bare for the first time the essential values and meanings by which we can live lives of inner freedom and harmony Philosophy's ultimate subject matter according to Hadot consists of such spiritual exercises as learning to live learning to die learning to dialogue learning to read learning to see all things experienced in the light of the idea of the irreducible one learning to relate concrete experiences to universal principles learning to master our inner dialogue learning the distinction between living according to the true nature of man and living according to the deformed image of human nature that we inherit from our societies through our “education” learning the psychological attitude of ego transcending objectivity and learning to live according to our most comprehensive perspective attainable on the world among other things I'd add that Christian mysticism added one crucial exercise learning the deepest meaning of loveRather than being optional extras to philosophizing Hadot insists that such exercises supply the core content of philosophies Most importantly the depth of the reader's commitment to the search for personal transformation supplies the very lifeblood of philosophic meaning providing the existential experiential content without which encountered theoretical concepts remain hollow husks“The philosophical act is not situated merely on the cognitive level but on that of the self and of being It is a progress which causes us to be fully and makes us better It is a conversion which turns our entire life upside down changing the life of the person who goes through it It raises the individual from an inauthentic condition of life darkened by unconsciousness and harassed by worry to an authentic state of life in which he attains self consciousness an exact vision of the world inner peace and freedom” Life rightly conceived is a 247 practice aimed at spiritual transformation The goal of this transformation is to “re learn to see” the world and to relate to it fully Philosophy rightly conceived is an ever renewed act in the service of this transformation taken up and practiced at each instant Such practice over time takes up the dim scattered material of our experience and intensifies it gathering it into a unified pattern All the philosophic schools he discusses recognized that the end goal wisdom is never reached as a stable persisting state of being Rather they each affirm philosophy as the ever renewed commitment to practice aiming at attaining an ever deepening degree of realization within our lived day to day experience which transforms the inner economy of desires attitudes and tastes value estimates and conduct in the worldThe goal of philosophic exchange thus is not the transference of ready made free standing theoretical constructs that remain inert possessions in my mind Philosophic exchange at its best seeks to fuel the reader's pursuit of self realization by pointing to modes of attunement to aspects of reality previously missed It is my seeing informed and expanded by others' Hadot shows how philosophic understanding grows through this process of progressive integration of multiple perspective worlds towards ever greater approximation of the ideal of a universal perspective in which the fullest concept of unity can be experientially realized Our usual academic methods of purely discursive exegetic and theoretical philosophizing fall short of the philosophic insights we could glean by such personally transformative methods Hadot takes seriously the ancient ideal of philosophy as paideia or education in the service of self realization which saw the attainment of philosophic perspective over one's life as the fullest consummation of the developmental trajectory of the human psyche Unlike other animals the human animal is a self birthing animal Philosophy is the consciously regulated process of that self birthingWe begin the life of consciousness in a state of fragmentation and seemingly irresolvable flux The most powerful and perennially relevant spiritual exercises he describes concern this effort to integrate our psyche into a working unity a perspective capable of unifying the flux ambiguity paradox and fragmentation of our experience All the philosophic schools he describes urge us that in order to realize the inherent potentialities of our experience we must place it in a universal perspective by relating it to general principles via sustained meditation The ultimate goal is the cognition of the unity of things through the fully realized unity of the self Philosophy can only attain this developmental goal if it is than an abstract academic exercise but is grounded instead in the context of a sustained life practice via spiritual exercises which teach us how to relate the most universal principles which differ slightly in emphasis with each school to the most concrete intimate details of our lived experience All the philosophic schools he describes share one this one crucial exercise in common the effort to take a reflective step back from our usual ego centred selves in order to place our personal experience in the context of the most universal perspective attainable For each “philosophy signified the effort to raise up mankind from individuality and particularity to universality and objectivity” Our sustained effort to conceive reality as a whole makes a unity out of our scattered experience and reveals our true relationship to being The self thus becomes a genuine fully living unity only when it strives against its limitations to vividly conceive the unity of the whole Above all the effort to escape from the confines of ego centered perspective by vividly imagining and meditating on the expanse of infinities within infinities is liberating It is empowering by bringing the self back to a accurate estimate of the values of things than is given us by our culture In the end this exercise leads to the realization that the most essential values cannot be derived from adherence to external conditions but spring rather from the uality of our presence to ourselves and to the world Most importantly this spiritual exercise he describes as the basis for genuine theoretical insight and for truly moral actionEach school he discusses agrees that two key components of this exercise are the confrontation with death and the insistence on the absolute value of the present moment The meditation on our death throws us back on the present moment which we recognize as the only absolute in our purview We do not see the present moment rightly until it becomes for us both the first and the last moment of life – which it invariably is Only the present is our own Yet it is an inexhaustible sufficiency carrying within it the germ of perennially renewable creation The value of the present moment is given theoretical formulation in philosophies such as Stoicism and Epicureanism which affirm the mutual implication of all things with all others and that “the whole universe is present in each part of reality”“For them each instant and each present moment imply the entire universe and the whole history of the world Just as each instant presupposes the immensity of time so does our body presuppose the whole universe It is within ourselves that we can experience the coming into being of reality and the presence of being By becoming conscious of one single instant of our lives one single beat of our hearts we can feel ourselves linked to the entire immensity of the cosmos by concentrating one's attention on one instant one moment of the world the world then seems to come into being and be born before our eyes We then perceive the world as a “nature” in the etymological sense of the world physis that movement of growth and birth by which things manifest themselves We experience ourselves as a moment or instant of this movement; this immense event which reaches beyond us is always there before us and is always beyond us We are born along with the world”He describes the fundamental philosophic attitude as “prosoche” or living in sustained attention to the present which is a living always at the beginnings of life not at its culturally pre fabricated ends Death emerges as the universal solvent which dissolves everything but the value of personally transformative insight the seed of which is in each moment of life Attention to the moment against the ever present background of death concentrates the self's powers such that it can at last leap out of its exclusive identification with itself in order to genuinely engage with reality outside itself That is the encounter with death alone can make us true knowersPhilosophy is not just about education and psychological consummation It is also about therapy It seeks to heal that part of us that remains unengaged by our culture and that always nags and torments us by asking for “something ” even in our most glowing moments of immersive experience in the world at hand In this guise philosophy seeks to answer to the needs of that part of our being that is scarcely nourished by most of our lives in society It seeks the mode of its healing and strives to lift it up from its gutter dust it off give it voice and put its pieces back together in the way they were supposed to fit Once brought forth it hobbles awkwardly and we'd wish to be rid of it again for the sake of functionality but the best of philosophy is the nagging gadfly that will not grant us lasting peace of mind through self forgetfulness In contrast to this personally engaged mode of reading philosophy which supplies content to the conceptual husk of the text via spiritual exercises we are rather used by habits derived from our Analytic tradition to expect philosophic texts to dish out for us pre masticated aseptic and therefore anemic content that we can survey from a remove without engaging ourselves in any thoroughgoing way in the joint pursuit of insight that was once in dialectic the heart of philosophic practice Logic chopping and conceptual analysis are the standard of rigour for us even if our rigour comes at the expense of existential irrelevance Life in the world goes on untouched by our formal philosophies This mode of philosophizing purchases formal rigour at the cost of missing the central content of philosophy which is self realization As Hadot notes“the same thing happens in every spiritual exercise we must let ourselves be changed in our point of view attitudes and convictions This means that we must dialogue with ourselves and hence we must do battle with ourselves” We must let ourselves be changed by a philosophy if we are to understand it We must enter the perspectival universe which we'd seek to criticize Moreover the content of a philosophy is often to be discerned between the lines It is a dialectic a dialogue between us readers and the writer More specifically the content of a philosophy is the differential between our mode and level of spiritual development and that of the writer So a key spiritual exercise is to learn to dialogue to snap out of our natural self sealed monologues in order to learn to genuinely attend to the presence of others In doing so we fully bring into articulateness the meaning of the presence within us The ancients can show us that friendship in its truest meaning is a joint spiritual practice“The intimate connection between dialogue with others and dialogue with oneself is profoundly significant Only he who is capable of a genuine encounter with the other is capable of an authentic encounter within himself and the converse is eually true Dialogue can only be genuine within the framework of presence to others and to oneself From this perspective every spiritual exercise is a dialogue insofar as it is an exercise of authentic presence to oneself and to others”No personal struggle no personal engagement in the process of mutual transformation no philosophic meaningIn the end what the ancients can teach us is that happiness lies in the return to the essential values of life in living in accord with our true nature and in achieving the fullest relation with being as it is that we are capable of Above all it lies in transcending the ego centred orientation to life in favour of a universal perspective In this each philosophy recognizes that self realization involves self transcendence We are the most universal perspective that we are capable of attaining Hadot urges us not to subjectivize the “care of the self” that the spiritual exercises represent“Thus all spiritual exercises are fundamentally a return to the self in which the self is liberated from the state of alienation into which it has been plunged by worries passions and desires The “self” liberated in this way is no longer merely our egoistic passionate individuality it is our moral person open to universality and objectivity and participating in universal nature and thought”Such a cosmic perspective radically alters our awareness of ourselves Hadot insists that while the worldview of modern science which tends to uantitative impersonal representations of nature is nonetheless compatible with the ancient spiritual exercises which reveal the self not merely as isolated individual but as part of a whole It is this feeling realized at the end of sustained practice that is our ultimate response to the fear of death I could conclude perhaps with Hadot's reminder that to know ourselves we must know ourselves as “philo sophos” not as knowers because we never really are but as lovers of knowledge at a stage on the journey to realization Who we are is precisely the degree of our distance from this center of our lives from our ultimate realization as the uniue selves that we are with their incomparable modes of inhabiting and revealing being that they have Hadot doesn't have much of a creed and in this lies his greatest honesty He cannot be pegged as either a materialist or idealist His thought grows instead from that experiential source that lies beyond all philosophical creeds and he asks us to grow ours from the same inexhaustible groundIn the end he changes the way you read ALL philosophy Plato Kierkegaard and Nietzsche he shows can each be best understood as inheritors of ancient spiritual exercises Behind their explicit theories lies an implicit existential orientation to a certain model of human perfectibility Their goal is not theoretical insight for its own sake Rather theory is used by each as an instrument that is an integral part of a larger life practice aimed at transforming the reader's entire orientation to life by offering a vision of what our fuller being might be They attempt to show ways of relating to ourselves and to the world that draw on of our capacity for knowing and for experiencing meaning than we usually do “Old truths there are some truths whose meaning will never be exhausted by the generations of man It is not that they are difficult; on the contrary they are often extremely simple Often they even appear to be banal Yet for these truths to be understood these truths must be lived and constantly re experienced Each generation must take up from scratch the task of learning to read and to re read these 'old truths'”And now we need a comparative study of the old truths and spiritual exercises of the West to those of other cultures especially those of Indian and Chinese philosophy

  2. says:

    An exceptional book Highly recommended I Blocked Not only have I struggled with writing this review but I have let it get in the way of others reviews Time to get over it so here goes Point 1 If you want to read an overarching review of this excellent book read Elena’s review below She serves the author Pierre Hadot well Point 2 In my view ‘Philosophy as a Way of Life’ is really about attaining the “good life” This is not to be confused with “living the good life” as defined as having everything you need in life and not having to struggle for it I’ve got that but it’s really not anything like the “good life” Nor is it about joining a gym and promising yourself that you’re going to go It’s also not about the life some of you are seeking by buying books on how to get rich starting your own business on the internet or making friends and influencing people That last one could maybe be part of it though depending on how you approach it The “good life” was a concept held by most Ancient Greek philosophers They were seeking a way to live their lives that would make it fulfilling or ‘right’ in the sense that they were living in tune with the cosmos so to speak The “good life” was really what Socrates was after 3 Hadot wants his readers to take a new look at ancient Greek philosophers beyond the teachings of modern day academics beyond the view of the ancients as a bunch of dry pedagogues and scriveners This book is a call for “Philosophy as a Way of Life” A call for his readers to approach the Greeks from their standpoint the standpoint that says that philosophy is about living The goal is to discover road to the”good life” and to walk that road not just read about it The goal lies in practice as it was described in Ancient Greek philosophies To this end Hadot discusses the main schools of thought coming out of that time and place Platonism Aristotelianism Stoicism Epicureanism Cynicism and Pyrrhonism 4 Although Hadot presents us with this list in his earlier essay he in fact focuses on Stoicism and Epicureanism with some discussion of SocratesPlato and Aristotle barely doing than mentioning Cynicism and Pyrrhonism From my perspective this last is something of a disappointment for I most closely identify with Pyrrhonism It would have seen on the sceptical schools but there are other sources Sextus Impiricus provides the closest thing there is to a guide to Pyrrhonic ‘practice’ to be found in Ancient philosophy Although Hadot dismisses Buddhism as a source of such practice I find there to be a great deal of parallel thought between Mahayana Buddhist philosophy and PyrrhonismPoint 5 I would suggest that Hadot would agree that just as one cannot become a Buddhist without practicing a path to Buddhism; and one cannot become a Christian without practicing one of the forms of Christianity; or indeed become an auto mechanic without practicing the craft of auto mechanics it is also not possible to become a philosopher without practicing philosophy This is than simply reading a bunch of books or teaching some courses on the topic It is necessary to practice the vocation to learn what is involved and to take it into one’s daily life Not an easy thing to do but uite rewarding Take it up as a full time vocation It’s fun and rewarding even so than ‘making friends and influencing people” Thanks Elena

  3. says:

    Hadot's clear cut understanding of the Hellenistic schools of philosophy particularly Stoicism and Epicureanism is manifestly presented albeit in thesis form in this book He points out how philosophy in its current practice has become about abstract theorizing on the manner of the universe and our own lives from its purpose in antiuity of serving as a practical guide to a way of lifeThis book will serve as an exposition of the several schools of philosophical thought that propound their atomistically different but holistically similar ideologies rather than as a thorough guide to learning those spiritual exercises of which the title somewhat disingenuously alludes toSumming up this is a great book for those who wish greater lucidity on the ofttimes mystical and hard to grasp nature of antiuated philosophy

  4. says:

    This was a great book though not at all like I expected It was a series of lectures about practices in ancient philosophy primarily Stoicism Epicurianism and Platonism and how they are focused on living a good life I expected a practical guide but this was of a historical overview of the philosophies that talk about living a philosophical life If you want to know how philosophy can be applied to your life the spiritual exercises spoken of in this book you have to read the books the author is talking about rather than this book But saying that it was an amazing guidebook and having read some of the works he talks about eg Marcus Aurelius' Meditations I have a new understanding of them and am better able to apply the wisdom within them in my life So this definitely gets 55 stars

  5. says:

    Hadot strikes me as a cross between Foucault and Leo Strauss he shares with the Strauss the view that as the book title suggests philosophy is not primarily and perhaps not even ultimately concerned with assigning truth values to assertoric propositions He shares with Foucault a certain historicism; the way he talks about the doctrines and methods of so called schools of thought is somewhat symptomatic of this fact The editing in this volume is lazy and Hadot is repetitious and his style is sometimes shall we say less than riveting Those complaints however are mainly stylistic and matters of taste and do not touch upon substance but on Goodreads I rate based on what I like rather than what I esteem Certainly his chapter 3 Spiritual Exercises is an important chapter and deserves the reader's attention and respect for it makes plain why the philosophy of antiuity is a possession for all time

  6. says:

    People are not troubled by things but by their judgments about things EpictetusEpictetus' three acts or functions of the soul judgment desire inclination or impulsionSince each of these activities of the soul depend on us we can discipline them we can choose to judge or not to judge in a particular way we can choose to desire or not to desire to will or not to willThe goal of spiritual exercises is to influence yourself to produce an effect in yourselfIn every spiritual exercise it is necessary to make oneself change one's point of view attitude set of convictions therefore to dialogue with oneself therefore to struggle with oneselfA carpenter does not come to you and say 'Listen to me discourse about the art of carpentry' but he makes a contract for a house and builds it Do the same thing yourself Eat like a man drink like a man get married have children take part in civic life learn how to put up with insults and tolerate other people EpictetusWe should not be surprised to find that there are certain people who are half Stoic and half Epicurean who accept and combine Epicurean sensualism and Stoic communion with nature who practice both Stoic spiritual exercises of vigilance and Epicurean spiritual exercises aimed at the true pleasure of existingFe Goethe Rousseau ThoreauStoicism and Epicureanism seem to correspond to two opposite but inseperable poles of our inner life tension and relaxation duty and serenity moral consciousness and the joy of existingThe normal natural state of men should be wisdom for wisdom is nothing than the vision of things as they are the vision of the cosmos as it is in the light of reason and wisdom is also nothing than the mode of being and living that should correspond to this visionEvery school practices exercises designed to ensure spiritual progress toward the ideal state of wisdom exercises of reason that will be for the soul analogous to the athlete's training or to the application of a medical cureSelf control is fundamentally being attentive to oneselfPlutarch on self controlControlling one's anger curiosity speech or love of riches beginning by working one what is easiest in order gradually to acuire a firm and stable characterIt is necessary to try to have these dogmas and rules for living ready to hand if one is to be able to conduct oneself like a philosopher under all of life's circumstancesTake flight each day At least for a moment however brief as long as it is intense Every day a spiritual exercise alone or in the company of a man who also wishes to better himself Leave ordinary time behind Make an effort to rid yourself of your own passions Become eternal by surpassing yourself This inner effort is necessary this ambition justThe fundamental rule of life the distinction between what depends on us and what does notWe must confront life's difficulties face to face remembering that they are not evils since they do not depend on usThe exercise of meditation and memorization reuires nourishment This is where the specifically intellectual exercises as enumerated by Philo come in reading listening research and investigationHealing consists in bringing one's soul back from the worries of life to the simple joy of existing People's unhappiness for the Epicureans comes from the fact that they are afraid of things which are not to be feared and desire things which it is not necessary to desire and which are beyond their controlOn worry which tears us in the direction of the future hides from us the incomparable value of the simple fact of existingWe are born once and cannot be born twice but for all time must be no But you who are not master of tomorrow postpone your happiness life is wasted in procrastination and each one of us dies overwhelmed with caresKeep death before your eyes every day and then you will never have any abject thought nor any excessive desireIf one wants to know the nature of a thing one must examine it in its pure state since every addition to a thing is an obstacle to the knowledge of that thing When you examine it then remove from it everything that is not itself; better still remove all your stains from yourself and examine yourself and you will have faith in your immortality PlotinusAll schools agree that man before his philosophical conversion is in a state of unhappy disuiet Consumed by worries torn by passions he does not live a genuine life nor is he truly himself All schools also agree that man can be delivered from this state transform himself and attain a state of perfection It is precisely for this that spiritual exercises are intended Their goal is a ind of self formation which is to teach us how to live not in conformity with human prejudices and social conventions for social life itself is a product of the passions but in conformity with the nature of man which is none other than reason Why people are unhappyPeople are unhappy because they are the slave of their passions They are unhappy because they desire things they may not be able to obtain since they are exterior alien and superfluous to them It follows that happiness consists in indepence freedom and autonomy In other words happiness is the return to the essential that which is truly ourselves and which depends on usGoethe on learning how to readOrdinary people don't know how much time and effort it takes to learn how to read I've spent eighty years at it and still can't say that I've reached my goalEverything highly prized in life is empty petty and putrid a pack of little digs biting each other little children who fight then laugh then burst our crying Marcus AureliusThink about what they are like when they're eating sleeping copulating defecating Then think of what they're like when they're acting proud and important when they get angry and upbraid their inferiors Marcus AureliusMarcus on refusing to add subjective value judgmentsAlways make a definition or description of the object that occurs in your representation so as to be able to see it as it is in its essence both as a whle and as a dividend into its constituent parts and say to yourself its proper name and the names of those things out of which it is composed and into which it will be dissolvedEpictetusWe shall never give our assent to anything but that of which we have an objective representationSo and so's son is deadWhat happened?His son is dead?Nothing else?Not a thingSo and so's ship sankWhat happened?His ship sankThe Epicureans on senseless people IbidSenseless people live in hope for the future and since this cannot be certain they are consumed by fear and anxiety Their torment is the most intense when they realize too late that they have striven in vain after money or power or glory for they do not derive any pleasure from the things which inflamed with hope they had undertaken such great labors to procureNature made necessary things easy to obtain things which are hard to obtain unnecessaryThe fundamental Stoic attitudeAttention vigilance and continuous tension concentrated upon each and every moment in order not to miss anything which is contrary to reasonHere is what is enough for you1 the judgment you are bringing to bear at this moment upon reality as long as it is objective;2 the action you are carrying out at this moment as long as it is accomplished in the service of human community; and3 the inner disposition in which you find yourself at this moment as long as it is a disposition of joy in the face of the conjunction of events caused by extraneous causality Marcus AureliusSeneca on focusing on the present momentTwo things must be cut short the fear of the future and the memory of past discomfort; the one does not concern me any and the other does not concern me yetRich people are proud of completely unimportant things MenippusIn order to live mandkind must humanize the world; in other words transform it by action as well as by his perception into an ensemble of things useful for life Thus we fabricate the objects of our worry uarrels social rituals and conventional values That is what our world is like; we no longer see the world ua world In the words of Rilke we no longer see the Open; we see only the future

  7. says:

    A must read for anyone interested in ancient philosophy and seekers of wisdom This book has a great way of explaining how it was when philosophy was a way of life and will give you suggestions on how to think for yourself and for the present moment

  8. says:

    This is a good read and it cheers me up The chapter on Socrates is particularly interesting insights into approaches to teaching and dialogue as well as the role of Eros as demon And about incommunicability language and death Finally some ancient wisdom I will re read Euripides tragedies The form of dialogue is first a form of friendship It is a journey in which the interlocutors do not know the destination They do not respectively defend a ‘truth’ or conclusion yet it is a kind of battle with oneself and the other because it reuires a constant shifting of the goal post Socrates was known for saying ‘All I know is that I do not know anything’ Yet the imparting of an attitude of uestioning and an openness to unpredicted detours of reflection was the character of his style So the dialogue is friendship for knowledge an attitude of love towards it that demands an engagement that is dialectical The nature of dialogical dialectic of the Platonic form is this battle and constant uestioning where the interlocutor brings a random element to the engagement that makes it capable of transforming oneself and the other This random element is freedom The dialogue is a spiritual exercise to an extent it entails a conversion but it is not a manipulation in so far as both interlocutors are open to the process of transformation What is the basic difference then between sophism as the art of persuasion and the platonic dialogue? The latter is the exercise of method a participation to the logos that knows no pre established conclusions Yet the theme of conversion and persuasion are already present in Plato This is important for politics for the sophists will be accused of not being in the service of truth but in the service of power It is the first attack on discourse the critiue of sophism An attack on the tools of philosophical discourse as ends in themselves The Epicureans were the first to introduce the idea that the value of presence of being present was the cancellation of worries and anxieties towards the future

  9. says:

    Read much of this book on a one to one study group with Dresden; we both enjoyed what we read although she said that John said that he had heard Hadot was Foucault light Hadot is certainly simple and one can tire of his seemingly endless search for sources and authors that match his thesis—and yet that thesis opens up a new realm for philosophy past and future but most especially in the present Now Yes Now Did you get that?Hadot made me want to re read Plato properly and I thank him for that More generally he nicely delineated a path of reading that could be continued whether I want to delve into ancient or modern philosophy I especially want to revisit Epictetus Lucretius Plotinus and read Marcus Aurelius for the first time; in the future aka recent past I want to read Hegel coming soon to a library near you Nietzsche Husserl Heidegger Bergson Merleau Ponty Sartre Camus And most importantly I am trying to continue the uixotic uest

  10. says:

    Hadot presents philosophy as spiritual exercises through essays on Socrates Marcus Aurelius and others In addition to the exercises the book includes essays on the methods of philosophy discussions of Socrates and Marcus Aurelius The essay on Marcus Aurelius was enhanced by my concurrent reading of his Meditations which can be seen as an example of the way of practicing philosophy described in Hadot's book The book concludes with a section on Themes where the nature of happiness and understanding the world through philosophizing are considered He concludes with the title essay that recommends practicing philosophy as 'a way of life' This was an intriguing and invigorating read that as with all good books left this reader with as many uestions as it did answers